Friday 16 May 2008

German Cake as promised

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I had a really nice e-mail from one of my blog readers, Alison, today that made me think that maybe my blog should be called 'A Cup of Coffee and a Slice of Cake', as that would be the German equivalent to 'A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit'. Yes, I know Germans also drink tea and eat biscuits, and elsewhere in the world you can get coffee and cake, but coffee and cake is quite an institution in Germany.

If I may so myself, we Germans do coffee and cake well and when I got back from my last trip I promised I'd share two cake recipes that I picked up. Well, here's the first one, Stachelbeer Baisertorte or Gooseberry Meringue Cake. It's one of my dad's favourite cakes even though him and cream are on a bit of a war path.


My mother has made it for years, it looks great and tastes even better. I didn't use to like it when I was younger as I was convinced that I would suffer terribly if I had to eat gooseberries, but I have wised up (there might hope for me yet, to become a wise old woman maybe) and now love the combination of the sweet meringue and the tart gooseberries. I have also had this cake with sour cherries and with strawberries instead of the gooseberries. I really like the cherry version, but for me the strawberries were not quite enough of a contrast to the meringue and I found it a little sweet. Still pretty good though and as we were tucking into this cake at my nephew's First Communion, my mum and I talked about trying to make it with stewed rhubarb (just briefly stewed so it's still chunky).

Well, and this is also where this recipe becomes a little difficult to 'translate' as in Germany you'll find canned gooseberries in every supermarket, but I have never seen them anywhere here, so I have altered the recipe slightly and include a way of stewing fresh gooseberries in the hope that you can at least find fresh ones where you are later this year. If you use strawberries it's simpler, you just cut them into quarters and layer them with the cream in between the two cake layers, no stewing involved.


Stachelbeer-Baisertorte or Gooseberry Meringue Cake

For the dough:
100gr butter, soft
100gr caster sugar
4 egg yolks
125gr plain flour
1tsp baking powder

For the meringue:
4 egg whites
200gr caster sugar
80gr flaked almonds

For the filling:
600ml single cream
4tsp vanilla sugar
2tsp caster sugar
2 pkts 'Sahnesteif' (this is optional and unavailable here in the UK, it's something that helps the cream stiffen when whisked)
2 tbsp butter
1 lemon, zest and juice only
100ml water or apple juice
75gr caster sugar
300gr gooseberries
1 sheet of gelatin

Preheat your oven to 160C/Gas3.

In a bowl beat the butter and sugar until well combined and 'frothy', using an electric mixer.

In a separate, clean bowl beat the eggs whites and sugar until completely stiff and you are able to turn the bowl upside down without it falling out. Make sure you have cleaned the beaters of your mixer well, otherwise the egg whites won't stiffen.

Line the bottom of a 26cm springform pan with baking paper and pour half of the batter into a the pan. Spread out evenly and top with half of the meringue mixture and sprinkle with half of the almond flakes.

Bake for 25-30 minutes in the middle of the oven, until golden.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for five minutes, before removing from the pan (this is where the baking paper is essential, as you can lift it off) and repeat with the other half. You can of course do this all at once if you own two of the springform pans and have a fan assisted oven.

While the cake layers are cooling whip your cream with the sugar and vanilla sugar until stiff.

When the cake layers are completely cooled, stew your gooseberries.

Melt the butter in a pan and add lemon juice, zest and water and gooseberries.

Bring to a simmer and cook for about five minutes, until the gooseberries soften but don't fall apart.

Remove the gooseberries with a slotted spoon and thicken the juices with gelatin (see packet for instructions) or the quick gel, return the gooseberries, allow to cool a little.

Now place one cooled cake layer on a serving plate, top with the gooseberries and allow to cool completely.

Top with the stiff whipped cream and finally place the other cake layer on top carefully.

Should you have any left over, it freezes quite well.


There are loads of other versions on the net, that suggest using peaches, raspberries, mixed berries or red currants. As I said I'd always choose a tart fruit over a sweet one to contrast the sweet meringue. Any of those could be used without stewing.

You'll need a really sharp knife to cut it, or alternatively you can pre-slice the top layer and place it on top in 'ready-made' slices, otherwise you have to be careful that the cream doesn't push out to the sides when you cut it.


Maria♥ said...

I've never tried Gooeseberries, I'm not sure where I am getting the idea that they are bitter in taste. Am I right? Your cake looks gorgeous though and I love the sound of Strawberries, perfect to serve as a summer dessert!


Sylvie said...

Maria, there a bit like rhubarb in that they are very tart and you can't really eat the raw, but they are great stewed in combination with something sweet. I wouldn't say they are bitter though, they are lovely in a gooseberry fool or you can make gooseberry jam.

Peter M said...

Thanks for sharing a family recipe, it looks like a fine dessert. Is this dessert specific to a particular region of Germany?

Sylvie said...

It's not regional as far as I know Peter, but there are loads of variations in the fruit used, maybe that depends a bit on where abouts in Germany you are. There are quite a few recipes on the net that also suggest peaches, raspberries or fresh red currants. The great thing about using those kind of fruits is that you don't need to stew them, but I definitely prefer a fruit with a certain amount of tartness, to contrast the sweet meringue.

Jan said...

That is such a lovely looking cake Sylvie!

Silvia - Magnolia Wedding Planner said...

Good morning Sylive! What a great cake! I'll take note of the recipe but it won't look the same as yours I'm afraid :-P you are too good!!
have a good day

Wendy said...

I'm not usually bothered about cakes but this one looks amazing! Yum.

Nic said...

Thanks for sharing this Sylvie - it looks totally different from anything I have had before! I'd love to try it.

Jules said...

Gorgeous looking cake. I have very fond memories of German cakes from the time I spent there in my childhood.

Raquel said...

That cake looks amazing, Sylvie! My dad loves gooseberries, we usually just make him gooseberry pie about once a year (he is diabetic). I may just try this this year and I like the idea of the rhubarb. I think I saw some canned gooseberries at the market the other day.

Kelly-Jane said...

A gorgeous cake, mmmmm!

I love gooseberries, my first experience of one was from my Grandmother's garden, and it was so soft and juicy - mind you they are not all like that, more like hard and sour!

Sylvie said...

Jan, thanks.

Silvia, I have to admit that that is actually the one my SIl made for my nephews communion, But it's really not that difficult and it always looks impressive.

Wendy, thanks.

Nic, give it a go!

Jules, whereabouts did you go/live.

Raquel, if yo do get canned gooseberries, you can just thicken about 3/4 cup of the juice from the jar.

Kelly-jane, I have to admit I have never had a sweet and juicy one.

Jules said...

Sylvie - I lived near Kladow in Berlin for 3 years. My Dad was working there at the time. I have very fond memories from my time there.

Sylvie said...

Jules, believe it or not I have never been to Berlin. I'm planning to rectify that situation sometime in the next twelve months though! ;)

test it comm said...

That cake looks amazing!! Goosberries bring back memories as my grandparents grew them in their back yard. They are pretty hard to find here now. There was one farmer at the farmers market that had them last year though. I am really interested in trying gooseberries baked in something.

Helene said...

Meringue cakes are my favorites, ever since I was a child and this one is just wonderful!

Mama Mia said...

ive never had gooseberries before either! Oh my god your cake looks wonderful!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Wowee - what a treat! I love gooseberries, but they're fiendishly difficult to find here these days. Oh how I long for the bushes my parents had, years ago now, in their back garden.

What a lovely way to use them.

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

I think my mum would love this one. She really likes, what she calls goosegogs!

Abitofafoodie said...

Ooh - I haven't had gooseberries for ages and think this looks and sounds like a great way of serving them. The sweetness of the meringue must work really well with the tartness of the fruit. Hope to get my hands on some gooseberries later in this year, so shall bookmark this one! Thank you for sharing it.

Maggie said...

I've got a gooseberry bush in my garden and needed some inspiration for using them up in a different ways. This cake looks a winner.

Rosie said...

One gorgeous cake Sylvie!! I just love gooseberries, my dad used to grow bushes in our garden when I was a child. I used to pick the fruit off and eat *giggle*..

Rosie x

Marie Rayner said...

That cake looks delicious Sylvie. I may have to give this one a go!

Sylvie said...

Kevin, they are not that easy to find here either, Kevin, but well worth the hunt.

Tartlette, I like meringue if it's paired with something tart.

Lina, next time you see them, pick some up at least if you like tart things.

aforkfulofspaghetti, I know what you mean about them being difficult to find.

Holler, it's my dad who loves them. I love the name goosegogs.

Antonia, it's exactly that combination that I enjoy so much, too.

Margaret, if you don't know what o do with your harvest, you can post some to me! ;)

Rosie, my mum and dad have them in their garden, too right at the back in the orchard next to the compost heap, but I wouldn't go near them when I was a child.

Marie, if you try it let me know what you think!

Ginny said...

Absolutely delicious! I would love to have a slice of the cake and a cup of coffee with you! :)

Anonymous said...

My wife makes this Torte - and is universally admired for it. She learnt to make it while living, as a teenager, near Warstein in Sauerland, east of Koln.
Yesterday we spent many a long hour topping and tailing 15 kilos of gooseberries and then preserving them.

Unknown said...

My German wife's parents had this when we recently visited. It is a wonderful combination between the sweet/sour for the torte. They said that after the War, Germans would pick these berries and use them as food was scarce. I look forward to making it.